October Baby review

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Film Review
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October Baby

Hannah’s parents have kept secrets from her, making it feel as if her life is a lie.  Why would they wait until she is nineteen to tell her that she was adopted?  Why would they not tell her that her lifelong health issues are due to the fact that her difficult birth was in fact a failed abortion attempt?  Bewildered and angered, Hannah turns for support to Jason, her best friend since childhood, who helps her deal with the growing resentment she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the confusion she feels toward her biological mother.  Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, Hannah joins his group of friends on a Spring Break road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past in Mobile, AL, the city where she was born and where her biological mother may still reside.  In the midst of her incredible journey, Hannah unearths more secrets, and finds that life can be more than what you have planned.  In her quest to find the truth, in her search to find self worth, Hannah discovers much more.

October Baby is a superb film, a powerful movie, and handles many sensitive issues with dignity and respect.  It has real-life characters of great depth, and while it is a film about an abortion survivor, it is very sensitive to the issue of abortion and those who have traveled that path.  In fact, Shari Rigby, who plays Hannah’s biological mother, has said that she brings to the portrayal her real life experiences with abortion, and the sensitivity and emotion shows.  And speaking of great acting, Rachel Hendrix as Hannah is amazing in her first feature film.  She brings complexity, sympathy, and even touches of humor to her character, without appearing whiny or shallow.  She is a joy to watch.

John Schneider is fabulous as Hannah’s adoptive father.  He needs to be heavy-handed at times, but Schneider is able to keep the audience sympathetic to his character, motivated by love, but still capable of bad choices.  Rounding out this great cast is Jennifer Price as Hannah’s adoptive mother, and Jason Burkey as Hannah’s friend Jason.

First time feature directors (and brothers) Andrew and Jon Erwin do a fantastic job of navigating this story and subject matter.  This is not a film so much about abortion, as it is a film about forgiveness and finding worth in spite of what life has handed you.  They have interspersed this touching tale with many fine moments of humor: honest, authentic and never forced.  Especially nice is the one true gospel scene where Hannah finds herself in an unfamiliar church meeting the resident pastor.  The scene is not a bit over-the-top, and played out as merely an example of a good pastor doing his job well.  And while there are a couple of scenes unnecessary and add little to the story, they are harmless (and short) enough.  If this is the quality the Erwins are able to establish with their first feature, it will be exciting to see where their talents take them in the future.

October Baby is rated PG13 because of the subject matter alone, as there are no elements of bad language, violence or sex.  There is one scene where a supporting character is bemoaning the effects of a hangover, but the message is clear that alcohol abuse is unwise, and he is now paying the price.  October Baby is a film everyone 13 and older should see: faith-based filmmaking at its best.  You will laugh.  You will cry.  You will be glad you saw this movie.


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